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ArchiTek Offers Virtual Engines

August 31, 2021

Author: Linley Gwennap

Among the many edge-AI startups, ArchiTek offers a unique architecture employing fixed-function accelerators that are configurable for different algorithms. Using these “virtual engines,” the Aionic architecture can handle many image-processing and AI algorithms. It is quickly reconfigurable for different tasks, enabling it to run multiple algorithms at essentially the same time. This flexibility allows the design to replace GPUs, DSPs, image processors (ISPs), and deep-learning accelerators (DLAs) in camera-based systems.

The Japanese startup has already tested two prototype chips to validate its architecture. It’s designing a new chip, called Chichibu, that it intends to sell to customers. The SoC targets peak AI performance of 3.6 trillion operations per second (TOPS) using 8-bit integer (INT8) data with a TDP of just 1.5W. This performance should enable it to process high-definition images at 24 frames per second (fps). ArchiTek expects tapeout in 2Q22 and volume production in 4Q22. It will also license the Aionic architecture for integration into customer chips; the first such design is already under way.

Shuichi Takada is CEO and CTO of the 20-person startup, which he founded in 2011 along with three colleagues from Panasonic. Based in Osaka, the company worked with Toyota to develop a small self-navigating robot using its prototype chip. It also licensed Aionic to Japanese ASIC vendor SocioNext, which is designing a higher-performance chip for an unnamed equipment vendor. ArchiTek has raised ¥1,000 million (about $9 million) and is seeking additional funding to complete the Chichibu design.

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